[b-hebrew] Opinions on J. Wash Watts "A Survey of Syntax in the Hebrew Old Testament

Rolf Furuli furuli at online.no
Wed Nov 30 14:26:51 EST 2011

Dear Randall,

We have been over this many times in the past. But it seems to me 
that Kevin may be relatively new to the list. So when you ask him to 
ponder on something, he must know what the issues are.

The first example itself is clear. But in my view, it tells nothing 
about the nature of Hebrew verbs. The use of expressions, such as the 
use of MXR, are governed by linguistic convention; the word order can 
be decisive, and 52 examples represent very few examples. First if 
you show that WAYYIQTOL and QATAL never are used with reference to 
the future, you have a case.

The basic requirement for any scholar is to define his expressions. 
So I ask: The advice against an "aspect-only" view, is only 
meaningful if you define aspect. Please give a clear definition of 
aspect in Classical Hebrew, and tell us in clear terms what the 
difference is between the imperfective aspect and the perfective 

Best regards,

Rolf Furuli

>>  What I learned in class is that both perfects and imperfects can have a
>>  past, present and future tense.  ...  Watts' book
>>  suggests the aspect notion over time/tense. He says perfects are completed
>>  action and imperfects are continuous action.
>Kevin, you might want to ponder on a BH datum:
>Clauses with maHar 'tomorrow' never have 'qatal' or wayyiqtol' as
>the main verb. Zero out of 52. That is fairly significant statistical
>evidence that is against the prediction of 'aspect-only' or 'modal-
>only' theories of the Hebrew verb.
>While you are musing, please note
>that I am not advocating 'time-only' either, I'm only pointing
>out that time/tense seems to be involved in the underdifferentiated
>Hebrew verb system, that is, underdifferentiated from an Indo-
>Europeanan perspective: the Hebrew indicative only has a two-way
>morphological distinction in simple indicative, two way distinction
>in sequential-clauses (wyyqtl and wqtl), plus participles.
>>  Kevin,
>>  It seems the book you've got uses an Aktionsart approach
>>  ('type of action'), which has been largely left behind in grammatical
>>  analysis of Hebrew these days. It just doesn't work. Aspect is
>>  definitely where you need to head.
>I disagree on two fronts.
>I suspect that the issue is one of definition of the metalinguistic
>terminology rather than substance. And as mentioned above,
>'aspect-only' is definitely not where someone should head.
>Randall Buth
>Randall Buth, PhD
>Biblical Language Center
>Really Learn
>b-hebrew mailing list
>b-hebrew at lists.ibiblio.org

More information about the b-hebrew mailing list